I was recently involved in testing changes to our help portal, and we are (finally) going to implement a feedback and rating option on our help topics. For the longest time I thought this wouldn’t really bring much in the way of feedback. However, it was through a different feedback exercise that I started to realize the value of this anonymous feedback channel.
Based on speaking to our target audience, I understood that they have so much feedback to give, and want to be listened to so badly, they welcome ANY channel. Face-to-face, or anonymous. Doesn’t matter.
I always thought that when people give ratings and feedback anonymously via a form online, that they wouldn’t really take the time to think about something or state what is good or bad about a document. I thought that ratings were insufficient to give the evaluator a real sense of what is needed to improve our product.
But after speaking with several members of our target audience in one-to-one interviews, they showed their passion for giving feedback on our product. And then I realized this akin to the multiple platforms out on the web that allow people to state their minds, especially when they are experts. Whether it be blogs, twitter, Facebook, run of the mill websites, DIGG, RSS, or whatever other tool is out there, people who know something want to share their feedback. It’s not just one-sided, it’s real collaboration and cooperation.
In this case, I realized it’s not an inferior channel to interviews or online questionnaires, rather it’s an additional anonymous channel that lets an expert user give feedback using free text and star ratings that the author will eventually receive so he or she can better the product.
In short, there isn’t one feedback channel that is better than another, they are all good, whether they be anonymous or not. Just give the audience the option to speak their minds. The rest is evaluating it later. And that’s a topic in itself.